William Missouri Downs





All of these plays are copyrighted and cannot be produced without permission of the playwright or his publishers. Downs@me.com








Opening March 2015 at the Unicorn Theatre in Kansas City

(Full length – Comedy-Drama – 4 to 19 women)

Women Playing Hamlet is a comedy about a tragedy. Jessica can’t believe she’s been cast as Hamlet on Theatre Row in NYC. Hundreds of women have played the melancholic princes(s) (including Sarah Bernhardt and Dame Judith Anderson), but for Jessica it comes as a complete shock. She auditioned for Ophelia.  Faced with a massive up hill climb, she sets out to find herself in the role with the help of self-important humanities professors, supercilious Shakespeare scholars, and barflies. She even gets texts from Patrick Stewart in her search to find why a woman must play the role of Hamlet. This play uses unique staging devices. First of all, four women play nineteen roles (although it can be done with a larger cast). Second, women play all the male roles. In Shakespeare’s day women’s parts were played by men - in this play we have a little revenge - after all it is Hamlet. Finally, the play uses Shakespeare’s own staging technique known as Verbal Scene Painting to set the locations.



MAD Gravity


(Full length - Comedy) 

Winner of the 2013 – The Reva Shiner Comedy Award at the Bloomington Playwrights Project

Finalist at The Eugene O’Neill


A comedy about what happens when a way-to-close comet interrupts a dinner party.  In an attempt to add increase the insignificance of their lives, Archie and Eudora have built a theatre in their living room. You’ve heard of reality television; they’ve created reality theatre.  But their performance goes absurdly erry when an astronomical ice ball the size of Manhattan threatens to plunge the earth, the dinner party, and their audience into total darkness.





Published By Samuel French

(Full length – Comedy-Drama)

National New Play Network Rolling Opening - A dark comedy about the meaning of life, school shootings, and why god hates amputees. The script uses Brechtian alienation and has great potential for multimedia staging. “The laughs keep coming — even as audience members might think with a twinge, "Ouch, that might be me." Some will no doubt be offended by one non-politically correct moment or another. But with luck, all will be forced to think.” - Orlando Sentinel





(Full length - Romantic Comedy)

A comedy answers the three most important questions in life: Does god exist? What is your purpose? And what should you do when you’re charged with plagiarism?  The story revolves around a chance meeting at a Barnes and Noble between an actor who records books on tape and a makeup artist who loves to listen. Soon they set out to understand Mother Teresa, professional rodeo announcers, near death experiences, pigeons and their effect on jet engines, and how books on tape can fix our lives in twelve easy steps. – “Downs flexes his considerable wit” – Denver Post






Published By Samuel French

(Full length - Comedy)

A about an infertile Jewish couple. One day their dreams are answered - they find a young pregnant girl from Iowa who is willing to let them adopt her out-of-wedlock baby. The only problem is the girl doesn’t know they’re Jewish. All she knows about Jews is what her farmer father told her, “They control Hollywood and killed Jesus.”





(Full length – A Serious Comedy)

Forgiving John Lennon is a comedy/drama about two progressive professors who set out to make their college more Islam-friendly by inviting an Islamic poet from Somalia to speak on campus; in one of their many clumsy attempts to bridge cultures, they apologize for the Crusades. The Detroit Free Press called it, “surprisingly funny” - “A very insightful script that will likely have tongues wagging on all sides of the political spectrum.”  - Michigan Encore Magazine - 1st place at the SteppingStone Theatre, New York  -  2nd place Virtual Theatre Project’s playwriting contest at Wake Forest University – “Surprisingly Funny” - The Detroit Free Press





 Published By Samuel French

(Full length - Romantic Comedy)

A comedy about Descartes’ philosophical insight “I think therefore I am.” It’s the story of an average philosophy major who is in love with the unattainable woman of his dreams. The only problem is that she has a glass eye and looks right through him.  Soon it occurs to him that she's not being narcissistic but in fact can't see him. He reasons that the only logical thing to do is to move in with her and cohabitate  – despite the fact that she’s unaware of his existence. It might be called a Woody Allen type comedy. 1st Place - GreenHouse New Play Festival – HotCity Theatre St. Louis.






(Full length - Comedy)

A comedy about a daughter, educated at godless-liberal Harvard, who comes home to visit her working-class, God-fearing, Polish family on the same weekend the Pope arrives in Chicago. This Last Night of Ballyhoo-ish comedy is new and has never been produced.





 (Full length - A Comedy in the Chekhovian Style)

Two Hollywood screenwriters are hired by Disney to adapt Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard into a new movie for Mel Gibson. All plot points in Seagulls In A Cherry Tree come from Chekhov’s plays (in particular The Cherry Orchard, Three Sisters, Uncle Vanya and The Seagull), plus a touch of invention, all of which have been rearranged and shaped in order to form a new Chekhov play. Winner of the Larry Corse Prize for Playwriting. “A smart, comical script… All you have to do is like to laugh” - The Orlando Sentinel






1st Place - Norfolk Southern Festival of New Works

(Full length - Comedy)

A comedy about a daughter who comes home to Texas to confront the dogma of her sexist-egotistical-cowboy-philosopher-father.  He divorced her mother years ago because he was having an affair with Ayn Rand.







Published by Next Stage Press

(Full length – Drama)

Arlen Weinberg, a Jewish anthropologist, is called to be an expert witness in a murder trial. The accused: a white police officer. His alleged crime: murdering a black man twenty years ago and burying the bones in the dirt floor beneath his brownstone. When Arlen arrives, he is shocked to discover that the defense lawyer is black. Ira Altridge is that black lawyer and he's not having a good day. His first expert witness has suddenly resigned from the case, giving him only one thin lunch hour to get his new anthropologist up to speed. Soon, the men discover they know each other, having both grown up in the same suburb of Chicago. Ira was a gang member who often preyed on Jewish boys and Arlen was the perfect target. Soon, their childhoods, cultures, and convictions come into conflict. Arlen's namby pamby liberalism drives Ira nuts, while Arlen begins to question if Ira's true purpose is to defend his white client. – 1st Place – National Playwrights Award





Published by Playscripts

(Full length - Comedy)

A dark comedy about a public school in Kansas. This  "Christopher Durang" type play concerns a young Jewish educator and her first year of teaching in a school that has been taken over by the religious right.  The play examines the politics of education, including political correctness, censorship, countless new mandates, school prayer, school shootings, and creative ways to avoid teaching evolution. Semi-Finalist at the Eugene O’Neill.




HEADSET: A View From The Light Booth

Published by Heuer Press

(Full length – Farce)

A comedy about the technical side of theatre. The entire play takes place in the Light Booth of the Chicago-Ensemble-Repertory-Group-Theatre-Project, on the final night of the Company’s questionable production of Hamlet. Everything that can go wrong does. The Los Angeles Times called it “A delightfully funny play."





A New Adaptation

Published by Next Stage Press

(Full length – Drama)

By Henrik Ibsen

From A Literal Translation By Hans Lindstrom

Adapted by William Missouri Downs





Other Plays available on request: Little Family Secrets, The Scopes Monkey Trial,  My Laughing Years, The “M” Word, The Shelf Life of Sushi, Chasing Pirandello, Conversion Class, Bare Handed Catch & The Little Train That Could But Chose Not To.